4 Online Safety Tips for Tech-Savvy Seniors
Technology is a great source of entertainment and connection, especially for those seniors who live alone. However, because it changes rapidly, many seniors find themselves running behind on the latest ways to keep their personal information safe from hackers and other thieves.
Unfortunately, seniors are a major target for online scammers, and these criminals can financially ruin a victim in a matter of minutes.
If you know someone who loves using technology, share these 4 tips with them to help protect their personal information and other data:
Don’t Assume Trustworthiness
Unless they know the person in real-life, such as a friend or relative, it’s important that seniors realize that not everyone they meet online is as trustworthy as they may sound.
Perhaps someone emails them with a deal that sounds too good to be true, or connects on social media with a sob story. While the information may be true, the likelihood that it’s all a lie to get access to their information is much greater.
Seniors need to remember to take everything they read online with a grain of salt, even if someone contacts them directly to share it. And just because they’ve built a relationship with the person on the other end of the chat doesn’t mean they aren’t being scammed.
Many scammers play a long game with their targets, building trust over days, weeks, or even years, then they suddenly have an “emergency” that needs funding. Because the victim trusts the person, they feel their story is legitimate and they give them money.
Don’t Give out Information
When it comes to giving our personal information online, it’s best to help seniors understand that it’s always better to refuse to give out information than to give too much.
While some sites, such as shopping sites or those where you electronically file your taxes, are secure, many are not. And if someone is directly contacting them via email, chat, or even phone, chances are good that the request for information is simply an attempt to get personal information to steal.
If your loved one gets an email, chat, or phone call claiming to be from a bank, government organization, or other group and requesting personal information, tell them not to give the information to the person who contacted them. Instead, contact the organization directly – using contact information found online or on printed statements, not provided by the person contacting them – and inquire about the legitimacy of the communication.
The request for information may be genuine, but that can easily be determined by making a phone call rather than clicking a link. It’s much better to take some extra time and be safe than to be sorry.
Use Strong Passwords
It may be easy to remember that your password is your address or a pet’s name, but those are also relatively easy passwords to crack. And if you use the same password for all your accounts, one hacker cracking it means they now have access to all your online information.
Instead of relying on the same password to keep you safe on every site, it’s best practice to create unique, strong passwords for every site you create accounts with – or at least creating a few different unique, strong passwords to cycle through.
A strong, unique password is one that uses a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters, and in unpredictable ways.
For example, if you want your password to be “goldfish123,” a way to make that more unique is to use “g0ldF!sh123” or go1Dfi$h123.”
Unique passwords do take longer to type and are more difficult to remember, but a little extra time spent typing in a password is preferable to using a non-unique password and having information stolen.
Often, if someone’s identity is stolen or their accounts are hacked, the victim may not know for weeks or even months after the damage has been done. This gives the criminals the opportunity to do even more damage, creating the possibility of a situation that can’t be fixed.
Have your loved one monitor their financial accounts and credit reports frequently, or monitor them yourself. Look for unusual charges on credit cards, withdrawals from bank accounts, or new accounts opened that show up on a credit report.
If necessary, sign your loved one up for an identity theft protection service. These services often offer affordable monthly membership fees, but routinely check a variety of data points to see if thieves have accessed your loved one’s information or accounts.
Skilled Senior Care in Maryland
At Advanced Nursing + Home Support, we believe that all people deserve the dignity and respect of remaining in their own homes as long as they wish. Our team of skilled senior care providers are available to care for your loved one as often as necessary, and we can provide everything from light housekeeping to skilled nursing care, transportation services to daily medication reminders. Call us today for care tomorrow!